A large number of injured marine creatures have washed up on the state’s beaches since March as adverse weather systems combine to create hazardous ocean conditions, marine conservators have said.
Many of those have been turtle hatchlings but also a great many sharks and rays have been trapped in ocean pools.
Sea Life Sydney Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Centre is one of the organisations treating rescued sea creatures and yesterday released details about some, including a green sea turtle, the centre has dubbed ‘Lucky’.
“When Lucky came into our care, it was fighting for its life. It’s likely that the weather system off the NSW Coast in March created hazardous ocean conditions that Lucky couldn’t compete with,” said Saskia McDonald, aquarist at Sea Life.
“Exhaustion would have hit, which would have seen Lucky and other baby turtles washed ashore.”
The turtle was named Lucky by Danny Jones and his children, Archie, nine, and Jazzy, seven, after they found it at Maroubra beach in late March. It weighed just 51g but is now a healthy 75.4g.
“It’s good to hear that it’s now on the mend and hopefully the two kids can help release it. These types of turtles can live up to 150 years so it’s quite nice to see it at its juvenile age,” said Mr Jones.
Mr Jones said he’d never seen a turtle before on the beach.
“To be honest it was a surprise to find the little turtle, especially at Maroubra beach, a city beach. If we find anything it’s usually dead fish or coconuts,” he added.
“We actually thought it was dead at first but then it started wiggling its legs but was obviously not right, so we made the decision to bring it home and call somebody to pick it up.”
Emily Best, a member of Sea Life’s Animal Rescue Team and the head keeper of Oceanariums, said the team had rescued almost as many turtles this year as in the previous 12 months.
“Last year we rescued five turtles in total and this year there’s already been four,” she said. “Winter is our biggest season as often storms or the Eastern Australian current trap tropical turtle species in Sydney where they don’t do well in the colder water.
“Since we’re only in May it looks as though we’re in for a big year.”
Turtle populations are in a global state of decline due to factors including boat strikes, plastic pollution, and climate change. This Sunday World Turtle Day aims to bring attention to the endangered status of many turtles and encourage human action to help them survive.
Emily said while crazy weather like the storms earlier this year impact turtles, the biggest issue they find with those brought into the centre is plastic.
“Fifty per cent will have consumed plastic, anything from lolly wrappers to fishing line,” she said.
She encouraged people to think about what they are consuming and work on changing habits.
“It can be as simple as heading to the bulk food store to buy your groceries plastic-free instead of Woolies,” she added.
If you spot any turtles that are injured, struggling or have been washed onto a beach, please contact the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Animal Rescue Centre. https://www.visitsealife.com/sydney/conservation/animal-rescue-centre/ | Phone – 0402 783 455.